Impairment of Vertical Saccades From an Acute Pontine Lesion in Multiple Sclerosis

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A 62-year-old woman with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis suddenly complained of diplopia associated with bilateral adduction impairment, nystagmus of the abducting eye bilaterally, and sparing of abduction, convergence, and vertical eye movements, consistent with bilateral internuclear ophthalmoplegia. Within 1 week, she had developed a complete horizontal gaze paralysis even with the oculocephalic maneuver. Vertical saccades were slow and convergence was preserved. There was a right lower motor neuron seventh cranial nerve palsy. Brain MRI showed a new enhancing lesion involving the pontine tegmentum. Clinical and MRI follow-up showed recovery after 6 months. The slowing of vertical saccades may have been due to spread of the demyelinating lesion to the adjacent paramedian pontine reticular formation, which contains omnipause neurons lying in the raphe interpositus nucleus thought to inhibit excitatory burst neurons for horizontal and vertical saccades. Our patient verifies the fact that vertical saccadic abnormalities may occur from a lesion apparently confined to the pons.

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